Dustin Ouellete grew up a bit the other day. I had known Dustin as an infant, and his mother before that. Several years ago, the Ouellete family moved away to the big city, but last summer they came back. Dustin came in a few times with his father, and his main concern was migraines. Dustin’s father, a quiet man who seldom smiles, was concerned that the headaches were keeping his son from ...

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Recently, the CDC announced that its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to stop recommending the nasal spray flu vaccine, FluMist, for anyone. Bottom line: it doesn’t work. Though their recommendation against the use of FluMist still has to be approved by the CDC director to make it “official,” it’s pretty much a done deal. The AAP’s president has already endorsed the announcement, too. Bye, Flumist. We’ll ...

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The patient arrived in the pediatric intensive care unit one summer early in my medical training. The weather was still warm, although the unforgiving heat from earlier in the season had mercifully passed. The whole thing had been an accident: The child, a toddler, had been left in the car outside her father’s office, discovered several hours later when the father returned to retrieve a document from the back seat. ...

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This story has been on my mind for many years, but each time I have sat down to write it, the words would not fall into place. The other day, a family mentioned having their “rainbow baby” referring to a child born after a tragedy.  To me, rainbows symbolize that even after the roughest storm, things can get better.  To see a rainbow, there must be moisture, like falling rain, in ...

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As a pediatrician I come across lists of “what to ask the pediatrician” and routinely meet with inquiring parents who are in search of a pediatrician.  Occasionally they come with a list of questions but most often they are not sure what they should be asking.  I always tell my new parents that the interview visits can tell you if I’m a normal person and if you can get booked ...

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To the American Board of Pediatrics: I took and passed my recertification exam in Washington State last fall and would like to express my sincere gratitude to your organization for setting up more hoops for pediatricians to jump through under the guise of helping us stay up-to-date. The first hurdle was the exam application and the second was the testing day experience, which was one of the most humiliating of my ...

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“Someone else will lend a helping hand,” a physician told me once, when asked to help with an emergency in public.  As a PALS instructor for more than a decade, I have always responded when possible.  In the last decade, there have been three in-flight emergencies, two elderly individuals who passed out in church, and a host of other less serious maladies.  A week ago, I discovered the best reason I ...

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I love being an academic pediatrician.  I didn’t start out to do that; I thought I would be writing novels and working part-time in an inner-city clinic.  I wrote with Robert Penn Warren in college and my first (and only) novel was published when I was a senior in medical school.  But things don’t always turn out the way you expect them to.  In my case, I didn’t expect to be ...

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When, aged thirteen, my best friend died of complications from sickle cell disease, her parents could not attend her funeral, or find out where she was buried. My mom explained to me that in the Yoruba culture, because parents are not expected to survive their children, it is considered an abomination for a parent to know where their child is buried. So, the young adults in the extended family attended ...

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The American medical establishment has systematically clogged his arteries with paperwork, lined his lungs with rules, and filled his intestines with, that’s right you guessed it, shit. There he lay, in a comatose state, awaiting to be pronounced. Only one thing is sustaining his overworked body. Idealism. Four months into my intern year and I’m just realizing how crucial maintaining my idealism -- as unrealistic as it may be -- is to ...

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